News / USA

Americans Want Smaller, More Efficient Government

Vera Roybal, right, of Las Vegas, reads flyers at a temporary employment agency table during a job fair in Las Vegas, where unemployment rate is 14.7 percent,  05 Oct 2010
Vera Roybal, right, of Las Vegas, reads flyers at a temporary employment agency table during a job fair in Las Vegas, where unemployment rate is 14.7 percent, 05 Oct 2010

Most of the 50 US states have struggled to close budget gaps by reducing public services, raising taxes or borrowing. A new study says Americans want leaner and more efficient government to deal with the budget crises. The survey shows that residents of five key US states share a sense of frustration and urgent desire to reform the budget process.

After the worst recession in 70 years and drastic drops in tax revenue, state governments are scrambling to balance their budgets. In California, lawmakers are working to close a 19 billion dollar shortfall. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last year imposed three-day-a-month furloughs on many state workers as a cost-cutting measure, and a court this week said that, despite a challenge by the workers, the measure is legal.

California was one of the five states in the survey, together with Arizona, Florida, Illinois and New York. Residents of each state face similar problems of high unemployment, a bleak real estate market and reduced tax revenues. Each has seen conflicting demands to raise taxes and save government programs, on one hand, or cut taxes and slash programs, on the other.

Susan Urahn of the Pew Center on the States says researchers see consistent responses from state to state on what the public wants. Four in ten respondents want smaller government, and even more are worried about waste.

"The real question is not how small or how large government ultimately should be, but how state leaders can demonstrate they are reducing waste, making government more efficient, and maximizing returns on taxpayer dollars," she said.

The survey shows that spending cuts are the most popular way to bring budgets under control. But a majority of respondents are willing to pay higher taxes to preserve elementary and high school education, and health services.

Urahn says that schools, health and social services are, in reality, the biggest recipients of state dollars, so that shielding them from cuts will be difficult.

Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California says respondents resist public borrowing, the passing of debt to future generations.

"When it comes to how to close their state's budget gap, more than two thirds of residents in all five states pick spending cuts first," he said. "They prefer tax increases second, and then borrowing."

Voters would like to raise taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, and also raise corporate taxes. But Baldassare says revenue from these sources would do little to close huge budget gaps.

The analysts say the public has a sense of urgency, but is not fully aware of the trade-offs needed to balance a public budget. They say political leaders have a lot of work to do in educating the public about the tough choices they face.

The analysts say that after the election in November, at least half of US states will have first-term governors who will face competing demands from a skeptical public over taxes and spending, and a rigid bottom line in their state budgets.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid